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April 19, 2017

Scientists, fans gather in Tempe to explore the Lucy, Psyche missions and the university's role in each

Sometimes it's OK to get a little starry-eyed.

That was the case Monday night in Tempe at the Discovery Mission Celebration of the Psyche and Lucy missions, where scientists, support staff and guests explored Arizona State University's roles in Psyche — the first ASU-led deep-space mission — and Lucy, which will carry an instrument designed and built on campus. The mood was festive and focused on possibilities.

ASU President Michael Crow addressed the crowd of about 200 people before a panel discussion, saying that by our nature, “we are all explorers.”

“We want to know,” he said. “We want to know everything.”

The Psyche Mission will explore a metallic asteroid that may be the core of an early planet, giving us a glimpse into what may lie at the core of Earth.

“We’ve never visited a metal world, and we’ve never seen Psyche as anything other than a speck of light,” said School of Earth and Space Exploration Director Lindy Elkins-Tanton, the mission's principal investigator.

The Lucy Mission, which will investigate Jupiter's Trojan asteroids, will carry a thermal emission spectrometer designed and built at ASU. Regents' Professor Phil Christensen is the instrument's designer and principal investigator; he discussed Monday evening how the ability to build space instruments on campus allows us to pique the interest of students and the community.

See more of the sights and sound bytes in the slideshow below.

Top photo: Panel moderator Ferran Garcia-Pichel (left) asks a question of panelists Dave Williams, Jim Bell, Lindy Elkins-Tanton, Phil Christensen, Henry Stone and Pete Lord at the Discovery Mission Celebration of Psyche and Lucy missions Monday in Tempe. Williams is the Psyche Mission co-investigator; Bell is the Lucy Mission co-investigator; Elkins-Tanton is the Psyche Mission principal investigator; Christensen is the Lucy Mission's thermal emissions spectrometer principal investigator; Stone is with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and is the Psyche Mission Project Manager; and Lord is with Space Systems Loral and is the deputy program manager. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now